In this context the word ‘ swab ‘ implies scrubbing, often with a stick scrub brush, but also a common mop especially inside the lodging areas, or a very lightweight brick which is usually secured to a broom handle by a steel ribbon. Holystoning is a useful practice for wooden deck boats, scraping a very thin wooden coating that leaves fresh (clean) grain visible. Fresh water is used inside but fine water from outside depends on the fresh water supply and the scale of the bottle. By the way, the beautiful wooden deck on many ships really is a layer of wood over the stainless steel hull.
Swabbing the deck is often a daily practice for vessels based on cleanliness – I heard it said that cleanliness is the passengers ‘ wallet’s immediate neighbor. Nothing will bother passengers more than a lack of cleanliness, and these ideas will almost certainly disappear. Cargo ships are not so common when the boards are swabbed, because short-sighted management cut the crew. On better managed ships, external decks are occasionally swabbed, perhaps weekly, or even less frequently, especially on long trips. This is often needed directly before reaching the port. The internal decks should be completed every day, but they are often overlooked-very few workers enjoy the work.